Cyber charter schools are real schools.
Cyber charter schools are real, tuition-free public schools approved by the PA Department of Education (PDE). A rigorous chartering and 5-year renewal process ensures that every aspect of a cyber charter school is carefully examined by the PDE on a regular schedule.
As a public school, cyber charters:
Cyber charter schools are able to select the students who enroll.
All PA students are eligible to enroll in a cyber charter school as stated in §1723-A of the Charter School law:
“All resident children in the Commonwealth qualify for admission to a charter school.”
“A charter school shall not discriminate in its admission policies or practices on the basis of intellectual ability, athletic ability, measures of achievement or aptitude, status as a personwith a disability, proficiency in the English language or any other basis that would be illegal if used by a school district.”
It is important to note that Pennsylvania cyber charter schools are the only form of tuition-free public school choice that is open to all students—any student living anywhere in the state.
Cyber school students are not socialized.
Cyber school students have many opportunities to socialize, including:
Cyber charter school teachers also have more time to interact one-on-one with students. In fact, many cyber students find they have more individual, one-on-one attention than in traditional schools.
With so many academic and social options to meet teachers and other students, parents of cyber school students are better able to create the optimum social environment for their child by selecting the most appropriate activities for him or her.
Cyber schools cost taxpayers too much!
The truth is—cyber charter schools educate students with less money! How?
PA law established a statewide funding formula used by all cyber charter schools and school districts. The formula is based on each district’s cost-per-student. Since each school district spends a different amount, per-student payments to cyber charter schools also vary by district.
Cyber charter schools receive payments from the home school district of each student. The payment, calculated using the state formula, is usually only 75%-80% of the district’s per-student cost. So if a district spends $12,000 per student, cyber charter schools receive only $9,000 to educate the student. The home district keeps the remaining 25%-30% to defray certain expenses. Cyber charter schools truly educate students using only a fraction of the amount spent by the home districts.
School districts are supposed to make monthly payments directly to the cyber school. Since there is no penalty for non-payment, some districts refuse to send payments during the school year. Cyber charter schools must then wait for this funding until the PDE makes such payments during the summer.
It is important to note: Each cyber school’s budget is limited by the total amount of payments received from school districts. Since cyber schools do not have the authority to tax anyone, they must live within their budget.
In addition to traditional expenses, such as curriculum materials, salaries for teachers and specialists, and buildings to house staff and onsite programs, cyber schools have many unique expenses:
It is important to know that the financial records of each cyber charter are audited and monitored by the state to ensure accountability.
Cyber charter schools are all the same.
When cyber charter schools began to open in PA more than ten years ago, online K-12 education was in its infancy. For the first time, students across the state were given computers and taught virtually. There are currently 16 different Pennsylvania cyber charter schools offering families real school choice.
Cyber schools vary in many aspects:
Management: A few cybers are independent, nonprofit schools managed locally; many are part of national management companies;
Parents and students should find out the facts about each cyber charter school by visiting websites and asking questions and select the one that best suits the student’s academic needs and learning style.
Parents must seek approval from their home district to enroll in a cyber school.
Enrolling in a cyber charter school is just like moving from one town to another. Parents do not need to receive approval from the home district. In fact, if the home district puts restrictions on students leaving to enroll in an independent cyber charter school, parents should request a copy of written school policies outlining such steps or contact the PA Department of Education directly.
Enrolling in a cyber charter school is usually easy:
Students may participate in sports and clubs at their home districts.
“The Charter School Law requires a charter school student’s school district of residence to allow the student to participate in the school district’s extra-curricular activities if the student is able to fulfill the requirements of participation and the charter school does not provide the same extracurricular activity. The requirements of participation shall apply equally to charter school students and students attending schools of the school district.”
(PA BEC, 24 P.S. §17-1701-A)
Cyber charter schools support the rights of their students to utilize activities in their home district. Districts who care about students living within their borders comply with this mandate, which benefits the student and the school.
Cyber charter schools meet the diverse needs of students.
Students and parents chose cyber schools for a variety of reasons:
In a cyber charter school, students can find a program that enhances their educational options…and it is free to all students living in Pennsylvania!